Say thanks for the dirty dishes

by Brenda Do

 

Someone once told me when his grandmother did the dishes, she’d always look at the messy pile in front of her and say, “Thank God for these dirty dishes.”

I thought that was one of the most beautiful examples of gratitude I’ve ever heard.

Because his grandmother didn’t see a stack of tiresome work as most of us easily would. Instead, she saw dirty dishes as evidence:

She had enough food to eat…

Enough food to share…

And loved ones to share food with.

I’m sure you agree, that’s three blessings to be thankful about.

We’ve all been taught to be grateful. And you’ve probably heard how gratitude positively affects our health because it lowers stress, improves moods, helps us make clearer decisions, and so on.

But the truth is, sometimes it’s tough to feel grateful when it seems the world won’t give you a break.

Maybe you’re exhausted working two jobs…you can barely pay your bills each month…or you’re in pain.

In times like these, it’s easy to go into stress, fear, or anger. But when this happens, we get caught up in a negative spiral that pulls us down further. Before long, we forget how to pull ourselves out of it.

To glimpse how dangerous that is, let’s do a quick little exercise:

Take a moment to feel one of the happiest moments you can remember in your life. Something that just fills your heart with joy.

Got it?  Good.  Sit in that joy for a few seconds.

Now think of one of the most stressful or angriest moment you ever had. Really feel that rage boil up in you again.

Where do you feel that stress or anger in your body? Maybe your your heart’s beating faster or your shoulders feel tense.

Whatever your reaction, one thing’s for sure: you can physically feel that anger or stress, can’t you?

Ok, now let’s blow that away and go back to your happy memory…that’s better.

Just from that short example, it’s obvious feeling stressed or unhappy can physically – and negatively – affect your body. In time, this could increase your chance of illness.

That’s one major reason why it’s important to change how we look at things to stay in a state of gratitude and happiness.

I know, sometimes that’s easier said than done.

So here’s what helps me stay grateful when something throws me for a spin…

When I’m in a tough situation, I snap myself back into gratitude mode by asking, “What’s the gift in this?”

I always find a great learning lesson from my answer. Then I quietly thank myself and the other person for bringing that experience to me.

I could be getting yelled at by someone and still find a gift in it. Maybe it’s an opportunity to improve a system. Or staying true to my values while someone tries to test them.

Either way, it’s a gift. And that’s always good.

One of my favorite sayings is, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

So what perspective can you change about something right now?

Ask yourself, “What’s the gift in that?”  Be very honest and you’ll give yourself the answer.

When you see the answer, you’ll invite more gratitude, feel more relaxed, and welcome more health into your life.

And for kicks, let’s be thankful for our dirty dishes tonight.